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Welcome to Vancouver, host city of the 2010 Winter Olympics

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Photo from Tourism Vancouver

Leading up until the games, besides team previews, analysis and all things to do Olympic hockey, we'll be profiling different aspects about Vancouver here at the Olympic Hockey Blog. Once the Games start of course, you'll find previews, recaps and analysis of every game that matters.

This series will be looking at the venues, the athletes village, where you the fan should catch the game if you are here and anything else that we think you should know. So whether you are visiting this city, live in this city or just want to know what this city is doing in relation to the hockey tournament, we've got the goods. First up, the venues.

The Venues:

The games for hockey will be split between two venues in Vancouver: UBC Thunderbird Arena and Canada Hockey Place

UBC Thunderbird Arena

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Photo from © VANOC/COVAN

UBC Thunderbird Arena is known as the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Arena and is located at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

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Photo from CP

The arena is part of the Thunderbird Winter Sport Complex that was recently renovated for the Olympics. It was officially opened for use in July 8, 2008 and boasts a capacity of 6,800 seats in the main arena and has two extra ice sheets. This upgrade was something that the UBC's old arena needed, so the cost of $47.9 million dollars, which included a $38, 225,000 contribution from VANOC will be a legacy that will long outlive the Olympics. The arena will be used in the future for UBC hockey, community programs as well as concerts and events.

It will be the venue for Men's Ice Hockey, Women's Ice Hockey and Paralympic Men's Sledge Hockey. For men's Ice Hockey, the arena will be used for the Qualification Playoff QP3 on Tuesday Feb 23, 2010 and the Quarter Final QF3 on Wednesday Feb 24, 2010. The two ice sheets will be used as practice facilities for teams during the 2010 Games.

It was at this site in 1963 that Bob Hindmarch and the late Rev. Father David Bauer established Canada’s first national hockey team at UBC. It was done in preparation for the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, where Father David Bauer coached a team of amateurs for the Olympics.

Canada Hockey Place

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The majority of men's hockey games, except for the QP3 and QF3 listed above will take place at the Canada Hockey Place. GM Place as it is known normally, has been renamed Canada Hockey Place during the Olympics because according to IOC policy, venues for the Olympics cannot bear the name of sponsors. The initial construction of GM Place was completed in 1995 and is now the home of the Vancouver Canucks. The venue has a capacity of 18,810 seats as well as 88 luxury seats and 12 hospitality seats. The rink is located in the heart of the city in downtown Vancouver and is located just across the water from the athlete's village.

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Recent upgrades to the arena include new LED ribbon boards, high-def scoreboards and upgrades to the locker rooms.

For the first time, the Olympic's will be played on an NHL sized ice surface. Plans were in place to renovate the arena to accommodate an international size but would require the removal seats and $10 million dollars in renovations, but in 2006 the IIHF announced that the rink would remain the same NHL size.

Vancity CanuckVancity Canuck writes about the Vancouver Canucks at Benched Whale and the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Hockey Bay Blog in addition to her work on Bloguin's Olympic Hockey Blog.

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